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Remembering Gary Hocking 1937-1962; World Motorcycle Road Racing Champion;

Gary Hocking

World Motorcycle Road Racing Champion

 First Grand Prix 1958 500cc Dutch TT
 First win 1959 250cc Swedish Grand Prix
 Last win 1962 Isle of Man 500cc Senior TT
 Last Grand Prix 1962 Isle of Man 500cc Senior TT
( Sadly I can't find a video of this race )

Died: 21st Dec 1962 in Natal, South Africa
after his car went out of control during practice
for the Natal Grand Prix which was held on 22nd Dec 1962.
Circuit: Westmead (South Africa)
Race: GP of Natal
Vehicle brand/model: Lotus 24 - Climax

"Hocking was killed in the last practice session
at Westmead race track when his
Lotus 24 - Climax went straight on at Devil's Leap
and somersaulted into a ditch.
He died of head injuries on his way to a hospital."

It seems his death was, aside from his car going out of control, due to a sloppy tree-felling job done at that circuit those many years ago. 

How sad!

According to information received, his body was taken
home to Wales and he is buried in Christchurch, Newport.
He was born in Caerleon, Wales but grew up in Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.


My Story

In the summer of 1962 I found a picture of Gary Hocking racing on his MV Augusta in The Star, a South African newspaper. I decided that I would like to write him and so I wrote to the Motor Editor of the same newspaper and asked him if he could get me Garys address. I also asked him to send me a picture of him if he had one to spare. A few weeks later I received an answer plus two beautiful photos in a big, brown envelope. One of the photos was of him and his parents and he had just won the Isle-Of-Man TT. The other was of him on his famous motorcycle. My friends at the Convent boarding school I attended were rather envious.

I was surprised to receive both pics and address so easily and promptly wrote him a letter explaining who I was and that I was hoping to get to the Rand Grand Prix to watch him race. I enclosed a pewter badge of St Christopher ( St C used to be the patron saint for keeping people safe ) in the envelope and posted the letter off to Bulawayo in S.Rhodesia. I think, if my memory serves me well, he lived in Queens Park.

The day came when his reply arrived and I was on cloud number 9! He wrote me such a great letter ( three whole pages ) and he sounded so friendly and kind. He seemed glad I had written and said I should try to meet him if I did get to Kyalami on 15th Dec 1962..the day of the Rand Grand Prix. He told me he had given up motorcycle racing because it was so dangerous and that he had lost a good friend in a fatal crash and he thanked me for the badge and for caring about his safety. ( I had chosen the badge instead of a medal so that he would be able to screw it on to the dashboard of his car, had he chosen to do so. )
He wished me good luck for my Matriculation exam ( finals ) and hoped Id eventually became a 2nd Florence Nightingale.

I showed my Dad the letter and he was very impressed and decided that we could travel to Johannesburg to watch the race. We lived in the country on a colliery near the small town of Witbank and he hated driving in the city so he WAS impressed. He even went to the trouble of borrowing a very powerful pair of binoculars to take along.
It was difficult getting past my final exams as I was only thinking of my trip to Kyalami and the fact that by a great miracle I would possibly get to speak face to face with my Hero.

The trip was uneventful but when we got nearer to Kyalami I started getting very nervous. I really had high hopes of meeting Gary and actually believed I would. I had taken contact with the Motor Editors of both The Star and The Rand Daily Mail and both told me I should look out for them and they would help me if they could. I would see their press bands. The Daily Mail guy also said he would have on his 'famous' Basuto hat.

The first race/s took place and it was exciting as we knew one of the drivers. 

He was racing his little GSM Dart and I was keen to see it in action as I'd been for a few spins around the mine property in it.

I cant remember much more as I was just waiting to cross the Dunlop Bridge to get to, as I thought, the Pits. To my surprise, on getting to the other side of the track, we were intercepted by a person who said we could not go any further as we were not allowed inside the "Paddock"... which was just an area of veld where racing cars were parked all over the place...without official passes. I produced my letter and showed him what was written and after a lot of headbanging he allowed us ( my brother and I ) to go further. He made us promise to come back as fast as possible.

The air, I remember, reeked of motor fuel and exhaust fumes and there were people everywhere. My Bro spotted the fence that separated the Pits from the Paddock and we realized that we were not going to get in there easily. I looked around for my newspaper 'contacts' but they were nowhere to be seen.

At the Pits' gate an official told us very definitely that we could not go in without passes. I showed him my letter and asked him if he wouldn't call Gary to the gate. He seemed to be undecided what to do with us and maybe was contemplating going to tell Gary that a rather cheeky person wanted to speak to him..but then he saw that the race was about to start and that let him off the hook. I couldn't wait there as I was afraid I would lose my folks in the crowd and my Bro had no intentions of hanging we went back to our seats and just made it in time to watch the start. As we re-crossed the Bridge we could see and hear the cars in their start positions. I was totally devastated! So near and yet so horribly far.

The day was spoiled for me and I was really very unhappy. However, I had come along to watch the race and I did that with the help of the binoculars. Gary came in 4th which was not bad for a new guy. I wasn't even really aware of the other drivers and there were some great ones. Jim Clark was one of them and he was the winner. Our place in the grandstand put us directly opposite where Gary came in for stops. At the end of the race he got out of the car and I could see every sweat drop on his face and on the back of his sweater. It was say the least! We stayed until the very last moment and some of the cars were stripped down to nothing but wheels and chassis. It all went very fast.

I had decided to reply to his letter after the final race in East London. I was going to tell him the whole sad tale but that I had kept my promise and had watched him race even though we never got to talk. I was also thinking he had a good chance to win in Natal and or East London. He had, after all, won the 1962 Rand Spring Trophy, the Total Cup and the Rhodesian GP. Imagine my distress and grief when I heard of his death via the radio and newspaper. I actually cried for weeks and put away my letter and photos which subsequently disappeared. When I looked for them months later they were gone. I think my Mom hid them and when she and my Dad sold the house those collectors' items were no more.

Years have passed and I have often thought of Gary Hocking. Even though our connection was made only by words in a letter, our lives had, for a split second in time, touched. He became important to me and still is.

According to records he started his motorcycle racing in 1958. He stayed with it until 1962 and won his most important race..the GP 500cc.
After the death of a friend, Tom Phyllis, he decided that motorcycle racing was too dangerous 
and changed to, what he assumed would be safer, auto racing.

He would have been a World Champion in Formula 1 racing had he not been killed at such an early age. In two years' time he will be 70 years old and in 7 years' time 50 years will have passed since he raced at Kyalami.

It has now come to my knowledge that he may have had a prediction that he would die young from a fortune teller in Durban..he may have been with in a group of guys including Mike Hailwood who visited this fortune teller. The same supposedly said Mike would not die on the track. It seems Jim Redman knows something about this but was not present when the prediction was made..assuming this is all true and it could be.
Video: 1961 Senior TT - Isle of Man 

I decided some time ago to make him a webpage assuming he did not have one. I have searched the web and can't find an English one so now I am making my contribution. Should anyone have anything to add or comment about please do not hesitate to contact me. I really do wish this information to be correct.


If I have used articles and pictures illegally, please contact me at E-Mail and I will remove the offending content. Thanks. 

GSM Dart

Ann Batteson 2005